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LCQ6: Manpower situation of retail, construction and catering industries
     Following is a question by the Hon Kwok Wai-keung and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Stephen Sui, in the Legislative Council today (February 22):
     Regarding the manpower situation of the retail, construction and catering industries, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) in respect of each of the aforesaid three industries, of the respective numbers, and their respective percentages in the number of posts in the industry, of (i) people employed, (ii) job seekers, (iii) people dismissed or made redundant, and (iv) people who resigned, in each of the past four years (with a breakdown by the age groups set out in the table below);

Industry:                                         / Year:                                      
Age group Number of (i)
Number of (ii)
Number of (iii)
Number of (iv)
60 or above        
(2) of the annual average figures of the following statistics on the three industries in each of the past four years: (i) the percentage of the number of monthly vacancies in the total number of jobs in that month, (ii) the monthly unemployment rates, (iii) the median monthly wages, and (iv) the median weekly working hours (set out such information in a table);
(3) of the current methods, apart from making reference to the information in (1) and (2), adopted by the Government for assessing the manpower situation of the three industries; and
(4) of the new measures to attract members of the public to join the three industries and to reduce their manpower wastage rate?

     Having consulted the relevant bureaux, our consolidated response to the Hon Kwok Wai-keung's question is set out below:

 (1) and (2) Based on the information obtained from the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), the relevant statistics are listed at Annex I and Annex II respectively. C&SD does not compile data on vacancies by age group, and hence figures on the number of posts by age group are not available.

(3) The labour supply and demand situation of individual sectors hinges on a number of factors such as the prevailing macroeconomic environment, developments of the sectors, local demographic structure, and the implementation of employment and immigration policies. In assessing the manpower situation of different sectors, apart from taking into account labour statistics, the Government has been monitoring the developments of the aforesaid factors closely.
     Moreover, Training Boards of the Vocational Training Council (VTC) conduct manpower surveys regularly for the related industries (including the retail, construction and catering industries), aiming to review their business outlooks, and assess the short to medium term manpower demand and training needs in the industries. The findings and recommendations of the surveys provide reference to VTC in the design of relevant vocational and professional education and training programmes and services. The reports of the manpower surveys are uploaded on VTC's website for public information.
     Regarding the construction industry, the Government also makes reference to the manpower forecast of construction workers regularly published by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) when assessing the manpower situation. The report has taken into account the latest forecast construction output of public and private sectors, training output, number and age distribution of in-service workers, etc. According to the manpower forecast published by CIC in December 2016, the construction output of public and private sectors in the coming years will maintain at the high level of above $240 billion per annual, and the shortage of skilled construction workers will continue.
(4) The government bureaux concerned launch various measures to attract job seekers to work in the retail, construction and catering industries and facilitate practitioners to have continuous development in the industries.
     Regarding the construction industry, the Government and CIC have been actively implementing a host of multi-pronged measures to attract Hong Kong people to join the industry and to reduce the manpower wastage.  Since 2010, the Legislative Council has approved a total of $420 million to support CIC to strengthen its skill training and publicity activities. From 2009 to end-2016, CIC has trained more than 24 000 semi-skilled workers.  In 2017, CIC will strengthen its training on in-service general workers, including ethnic minority workers, to upgrade their skill levels to semi-skilled worker. To further uplifting the skill levels of construction workers, the Government and CIC are collaborating to implement a pilot scheme for upgrading the skills of semi-skilled workers to the levels of skilled workers. Other measures to attract more new entrants (in particular young people) to join the industry and to reduce manpower wastage include providing a clear progression pathway for industry practitioners and introducing innovative technologies. CIC will set up an innovation and technology application centre in the second half of 2017 to provide a platform for introducing innovative technologies into the industry to enhance productivity.
     The Government has launched the Pilot Training and Support Scheme (PTSS) since the 2014/15 academic year via VTC. Integrating structured apprenticeship training and a clear career progression pathway, PTSS aims at attracting and retaining talents for different trades and industries with great manpower demand, including the construction industry. PTSS was well received by the participating students and employers. In consideration of the recommendation made by the Task Force on Promotion of Vocational Education, the Government extended PTSS in 2016 to benefit four cohorts of a total of 4 000 students with a total commitment of $288 million.
     Moreover, VTC, through its member institutions including Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, Hotel and Tourism Institute, Chinese Culinary Institute, International Culinary Institute, Institute of Professional Education and Knowledge and Integrated Vocational Development Centre, offers full-time and part-time programmes related to retail, construction and food and beverage services to meet the market needs. In the 2016/17 academic year, over 30 programmes are offered in the area of retail, e.g. the "Earn & Learn Pilot Scheme for the Retail Industry", 50 programmes in construction and 60 programmes in food & beverage services. 
     Other measures include the "Retail Technology Adoption Assistance Scheme for Manpower Demand Management" implemented in partnership with the Hong Kong Productivity Council and an industry promotion campaign. They seek to assist retail enterprises in enhancing productivity through technology adoption and promote a positive profile of the industry to attract more people to join the workforce.
     Furthermore, the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) has designated industry categories for retail and catering in the provision of training courses. As for construction industry, training courses are covered by the two industry categories of "Construction & Renovation" and "Electrical & Mechanical Services". In 2016-17, ERB earmarked a total of about 13 000 training places to offer 119 training courses under these four industry categories. Graduates of full-time placement-tied courses will receive follow-up placement services of three to six months.
     In 2016-17, ERB graduates who are new arrivals may use the "Smart Starter" part-time jobs referral platform. The majority of vacancies registered with the platform are front-line jobs of the retail and catering industries. ERB also arranges events like work experience activities and school career talks, which invite employers of different industries (including the retail and catering industries) to meet with different social groups (including youths, ethnic minorities, women, and mature persons) with a view to enhancing their knowledge of the industries concerned, and their prospects of joining the industries.
     The Government has also assisted the retail and catering industries to set up its respective Industry Training Advisory Committee (ITAC) under the Qualifications Framework. In addition to drawing up Specification of Competency Standards for the respective industry, ITAC strives to attract and nurture practitioners by mapping out clear progression pathways.
Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:57
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